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April Kettle Bell Swing Challenge!

5 Apr

I’ve seen lots of posts about the 300 kettle bell swing challenge. But not everyone is there yet. Even broken up into smaller increments throughout the day, 300 is way too many for some people. If this sounds like you- this challenge may be a better fit. This will allow you to work up to 400 swings in one day! Follow me on Facebook for daily reminders and check-ins!

Pick a weight that is comfortable but challenging. You can always go up or down as the month progresses. You want a weight that feels rather light for the first few swings, then starts to feel heavy as you get higher in your counts. If it’s heavy after 3-4 swings, go lighter. If you find that you’ve done 50 swings and it doesn’t feel heavy- go heavier. If you’ve followed my page over the past few months, you know that I’m also a fan of the Russian kettle bell swing over the American. HERE’S WHY.




Starts with day 1 (yes, I know it has already passed! But feel free to jump in on whatever day you want!)

Day 1: 100 kettle bell swings.

Day 2: 120 swings.
Day 3: 130 swings.
Day 4: 140 swings.


Day 9: 190 swings
Day 10: 200 swings
Day 11: 210 swings
Day 12: 220 swings


Day 19: 290 swings
Day 20: 300 swings
Day 21: 310 swings
Day 22: 320 swings


Day 29: 390 swings
Day 30: 400 swings


Let us know how you’re doing with this challenge by visiting our Facebook page!


Ocean Workout

19 Nov


I live in Maine, where ocean swimming is typically only done in July and August when the ocean may reach 65-68 degrees Farenheit. Since for half of the year Maine can be a pretty cold place, and because I like to be able to enjoy the outdoors year-round without freezing my ass off, I try to embrace the cold as much as possible.

Exposure to cold elements (water, air, etc) helps to alleviate inflammation and support recovery. It can boost your immunity, help fight Depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and even help you to burn fat. For more information on cold thermogenesis, see Dr. Jack Kruse.

Exist Anew also posted an article on why you shouldn’t fear the cold. Give it a read, HERE.

A couple of years ago, two friends and I completed a Tough Mudder race in Vermont during the first week of May. There was still snow, ice and frozen mud everywhere; many of the obstacles were based on this. Without hesitation, I made it through each obstacle, and I wasn’t even cold! This workout (video, below) is just one example of the many that I did in preparation for the Tough Mudder’s cold obstacles.

In case you are curious, here is the Maine weather this week:

weather pic

And the ocean temperature on Saturday November 16, 2103:


So, after seeing the temperature of both the air and the water, I put on my spandex pants (appropriate for both working out on the beach and for swimming), packed a 44lb kettle bell in my backpack and headed to the ocean.

The walk into the beach is about a mile through the woods. By the time I reached the water, with the 44lb kettle bell on my back, I was plenty warmed up for the rest of my workout.



Russian vs. American

3 Mar



The Russian swing starts with the kettle bell on the floor, between your legs.


Bend over with a neutral back (no back arch, or as I like to call it, “stripper butt”) and grip the kettle bell. Stand with the kettle bell, just like a deadlift. Begin to use your hips to thrust the kettle bell forward in a swinging motion. Once you get a little momentum going and you are ready to do the full swing, the kettle bell should come back between your legs and should be tucked just below the groin, with your legs slightly bent (knees are not locked but your legs are not bent like a squat.) Your head should be looking down toward the kettle bell between your legs.

Think of hiking a football.


The bell is then propelled forward to chest level, perpendicular to the torso. Your head comes up with the swing, and at the height of the swing, you should be looking directly in front of you at the bell. At the height of the swing, the bell should feel a though it is floating; like you can let go and it would stay floating in front of your chest without flying forward or behind your head.

Your hips and glutes should be doing the work, not your arms.

Meg Crossfit Beacon KB Swing

Meg E.
Cross Fit Beacon
Portland, ME

The movement is quick, explosive, short and stays within a relatively short range of motion; it is a hip-hinge movement, with minimal bend in the knee. The power of the swing is generated from the hips and glutes while the spine maintains a neutral position. At the height of the swing, the bell is at chest level (again, perpendicular to the chest) and your glutes are contracted, quads are engaged (pulling the knees up), torso/core is solid, tight and braced for impact. Your lats are engaged, pulling the shoulders back to support your posture and your neutral spine.

The Russian swing should be performed with rhythmic diaphragmatic breathing – filling your diaphragm with a deep breath on the down part of the swing and exhaling while bracing the core at the top of the swing. Oftentimes, you may hear someone performing this swing with a “tssss” sound, as you often exhale through the teeth at the top of the swing.



American Swing has the same basic mechanics as the Russian swing, only the bell is brought overhead on the swing up. You will likely see this lift performed in a Cross fit setting. In theory, the bell is “pushed” overhead; the momentum from the swing (glutes, quads and hamstrings) drives it up. In reality, most people who perform this lift, especially for heavier reps or when form starts to break down due to fatigue, use their chest, traps and deltoids to get the bell directly overhead; they lack the mobility to execute this movement safely, and shouldn’t do it.

One way to determine your mobility with respect to the American swing, is to lay flat on the ground, on your back, with your legs about shoulder width apart.


Note in the picture above that my pelvis is tilted and my lower back is not on the floor. This needs to be fixed in order to maintain a neutral spine. In order to do this,  roll your pelvis forward so your lower back is touching the ground; there should be no space between your lumbar vertebrae and the floor. Tuck your chin close to your chest, in order to minimize the arch in your neck and to straighten your spine- this will help the lumbar curve, too.

km swing 2 ground

Once you have your posture in a neutral position, put your hands together, straight out in front of you, as if you are holding a kettle bell at the height of a Russian swing. This should feel normal, comfortable and your posture should be nice and flat with minimal effort.

Now, raise your hands to overhead while maintaining the neck pack and your lower back to the ground. Can’t do it? You lack the mobility to execute this lift safely. It is quite likely that your lower back is now tilted (anterior tilt) and/or your head is tilted upward and you have dis-aligned your spine.

KM swing ground 4

At this point, it is your deltoids and traps that are bearing the load of this lift. Your shoulder joint is in an unnatural position. Add weight to this, and you will have injuries in your shoulders, chest and lats.

In short, the Russian swing is a safer movement. It is fast, explosive and moves within a relatively limited range of motion. This allows the swing to focus on the glutes with protecting the natural range of motion of the shoulders, neck and back. If you’re training for a Cross fit event and the standard is the American swing, you should practice laying on the ground and completing the exercise, above, in order to improve your mobility. If you’re training to be stronger, to lose fat, to increase overall athletic performance or you just want to look good in yoga pants, stick to the Russian.


Further reading: Check out THIS ARTICLE by Bret Contreras.

The Kettle Bell Swing is Not a Squat

7 Jan

The kettle bell swing is a hip movement. Its general purpose is to work the glutes and hamstrings. IMG_7786It can start a few different ways; I will outline the one I use the most, here, as I find it to be the most comfortable way to get started.

It should start with the kettle bell on the floor between your feet. Your legs should be slightly bent. Bend over, keeping your back straight, and grip the kettle bell.

IMG_7788Keep your eyes focused on the kettle bell.

Contracting your glutes and leaving your arms straight, stand with the kettle bell. This should look like a deadlift.

You should now be standing with the kettle bell between your legs, in front of, but touching your body.

Your shoulders should be rolled back and not slouched forward.

Keep your legs slightly bent, and begin to sit your hips back, just a bit. Thrust your hips forward, pushing the kettle bell into the swing motion. This may take a few swings to get the motion down, and you may find yourself using your pelvis to physically push the kettle bell forward; that is ok.

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